Posted: Jul 28, 2013 10:58 PM by Alex Labat
The men and women who volunteer as firefighters are constantly putting themselves in danger.
Between 2007 and 2011, more than 300,000 injuries were reported of firefighters harmed while on the job.
But with great risk, comes great reward, as Louisiana offers a tuition reimbursement program for firefighters.
Last Tuesday, firefighters and Haz-mat responded to a meth lab bust in the city of Scott.
Firefighters that Scott Mayor Purvis Morrison says are vital to the community, adding, "It's very very important for our volunteers, for us to bring in volunteer firefighters. We just have no way of paying to have a full paid fire department in the city of Scott as well as many other municipalities within the state of Louisiana."
To get those numbers up, the state is offering a reimbursement of tuition for volunteer firefighters. The state is offering $8,000 for a 2-year degree and $16,000 for a 4-year degree.
Scott Fire Chief Chad Sonnier says, "The benefit is tremendous, we have a lot of firefighters coming in to the organization now and able to help with fire scenes and emergency medical incidents. And it gives us more people to pick from."
Among those responding to Tuesday's incident was Justin Denais. Denais is the Assistant Chief of the Broussard Fire Department, and participated in the state's tuition reimbursement program.
"I wanted to further my education so I pursued an engineering degree at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and I also wanted to continue helping people so I chose to go with the grant so I could continue to do so", says Denais.
He says while the program is rewarding, being a firefighter does come with it's dangers which he says he's ready for.
Above all, he says volunteering is worth it.
He's currently employed as an oilfield engineer, but says firefighting is something he was born to do.
Denais adds, "I think it's a good thing that you can still give back to your community and the state's allowing you to do so and allowing you to pursue your education and bettering yourself."
The grant program is still looking for those eager to fight fires and finish their education.
If you're interested in the program, head on over to VFDLA.org.
There you'll find eligibility requirements and application forms.